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03/14/2016 / By Seth Leaf Pruzansky
As California gets drier and drier, it becomes abundantly clear that California almonds are going to take a heavy hit, especially considering that they use 10% of the state’s water. Most of California’s almond orchards are planted in areas that are suffering from “extreme drought,” say meteorologists.
Roughly 3 of the estimated 9 million acres of California’s irrigated farmlands is now made up of orchards and vineyards, with almonds leading the charge over all other nuts. California produces over 80 percent of the world’s almonds, which are considered the highest valued crop next to grapes.
The world demand for almonds has been skyrocketing, due in part to the popularity of the Mediterranean diet. This, along with their high profitability (California did $5.9 billion in almond sales in 2014) has resulted in more and more farmers planting profitable almond orchards. The sad part about it is that, in addition to making the land hard to fallow and cutting off crop diversity, farmers are reportedly tapping aquifers and seeking water anywhere they can find it… not a good choice in times of extreme drought!
Some have even been accused of siphoning off groundwater, taxing the state’s heavily diminished water supplies that some are estimating to collapse entirely within the near future. Sadly, along with a host of other wildlife, Chinook salmon are now competing with almond farmers for water.
But in recent news, some farmers have suggested that storm water can help replenish California’s Central Valley aquifer, an extreme measure, but one that speaks to the times of desperation in this ongoing dilemma.
All of this puts almond farmers in a tough spot, because if they cannot find enough water, their trees die, causing them (the farmers) tremendous losses in profit. And if they use too much water for their crops, wildlife suffers drastically. All in all, it is a very grim situation.
The Mediterranean region is the second biggest producer of almonds in the world, and unlike California almonds which were unfairly subjected to mandatory pasteurization in 2007, Mediterranean almonds are unpasteurized and raw. For now, these almonds might be our best choice, even though Spain is also suffering from drought conditions. It’s important to remember that every inhabited continent faces serious water issues in varying degree and there are no easy answers.
When the mandatory almond pasteurization laws went into effect, Living Nutz and a few other companies were at the forefront of the fight in attempt to reverse them. When it became apparent that no appeal was going to be granted, they and other companies chose to begin importing truly raw, unpasteurized almonds from the Mediterranean regions.
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